Giant pandas attend to androgen-related variation in male bleats

Charlton, Benjamin D, Swaisgood, Ronald R, Zhihe, Zhang and Snyder, Rebecca J (2012) Giant pandas attend to androgen-related variation in male bleats. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 66 (6). pp. 969-974. ISSN 0340-5443

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Abstract

Although androgen-dependant traits are predicted to signal overall male quality, no study has examined the response of a nonhuman animal to variation in a known acoustic cue to male androgen levels (steroid hormones that are key drivers of male sexual behaviour). Here, we use a single-speaker approach to present male and female giant pandas with re-synthesised male bleats representing callers with high and low androgen levels. Our results revealed that male and female giant pandas had significantly greater-looking responses, spent more time pacing, and were faster to respond to playbacks of bleats simulating high androgen males. When we analysed the sexes separately, a slightly different response pattern was revealed: whereas males and females still had significantly greater-looking responses and were faster to respond to bleats simulating high androgen males, only male giant pandas tended to spend more time pacing. These findings suggest that vocal cues to male androgen levels are functionally relevant to male and female giant pandas during the breeding season, and constitute the first demonstration that a nonhuman animal could be using a vocal signal to assess male hormonal state. We go on to discuss the ecological relevance of signalling androgen levels in this species’ sexual communication and the possible application of our results to conservation breeding

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology > QL0750 Animal behaviour
Depositing User: Benjamin Charlton
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2012 11:07
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2012 11:17
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/41875
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